Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Walk like an Egyp... human

As mentioned yesterday in jest, learning from what we cannot do is just as important as important as making new rules and associations. This appears to be the case with motor strategies as well. For some reason, I never really considered the fact that it takes a wiggling, squirming baby years to develop significant non-stereotyped, coordinated movements until Gerry Loeb mentioned it at an NIH workshop (along with a doomsday, dismal progress report on the state-of-the-art). Sure, it makes sense for things we ascribe to general 'knowledge', in the folk psychology sense, but just moving seems so fundamentally biological that we somehow set it aside as 'natural'.

Movements that minimize discomfort and maximize muscle efficiency is the focus of a robotics lab at MIT. (Why do their profs always have the most wicked cool pictures?) I think there is a special place in every movement-related BCI scientist's heart for robotics. Sure, work from the big names, like Reza Shadmehr, is great, but there's something about seeing decoding ideas performed by a cold, hard steel that just appeals to the geeky sci-fi kid in us all.
There was a great article on Cognitive Daily on the subject of detecting artificial movements. It looks like there's still some use for old-fashioned psychology experiments yet. Not surprisingly, this has been looked at on a more neuroscientific level, and localized, in part, to the Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS).

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